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Perhaps I’ve become insane, or in the least unhinged. No surprise there after all I’ve gone through. This was not always the case. Once I’d considered myself a normal woman, mother and wife. I’d probably have remained so had the Byrnes not come into my life and taught me an important lesson about justice. Thanks to them, I now know that justice comes in two forms. There’s justice for the rich and powerful and justice for everyone else. More importantly, the justice for the peons of the world must not interfere with that of the rich elite. I learned all this the hard way.
Sitting here in my cell, awaiting my trial, I’ve had lots of time to think. I must have gone over everything and what I've done a million times. And you know something, I'd do it all again—in the name of justice.
          I can’t help but think if the D.A. is smart, he'll try to pack the jury with men. Any woman, especially those with children, will feel my anguish when my case is presented. No matter what, as they say, the truth will set me free.

It won't bring my David back to me, but at least I’ll have a chance to see justice served. And his death will have some meaning. ***           When my husband, Peter, died, I would have willingly gone with him into the next world had it not been for David.  Peter had been my entire life. We had been childhood sweethearts, knowing we were right for each other from the day we met, which was in junior high school at a dance. He was this big, clumsy boy with a thick crop of yellow hair who’d asked me to dance to a slow song. He was quite a contrast to me with my dark hair and brown eyes. Unfortunately, he did more dancing all over my feet. He kept apologizing, but I’d thought he was adorable with his big blue eyes and matching dimples.
He grew into a tall, gentle man with a keen head for figures, becoming an accountant. As for me, I found science fascinating and became a teacher. We got married right after college and found a place to call home. Little did either of us know that Peter had a time bomb ticking away deep inside of him. He’d been born with two undetected tumors that lay dormant.
          Peter had always been an avid tennis player. He had the endurance that it took to be really good. I could never keep up with him on the court. 
          During one game I watched intently as Peter began to rush the net. Then suddenly, without warning, he was on the ground. I dropped my racket and ran to his side. He needed my help to get up. As he leaned on me for support and limped off the court to the side, I could see the pain etched on his face. His right knee had buckled underneath him without any apparent reason and now he couldn’t put any weight on it.
          I accompanied Peter to the orthopedic surgeon. The doctor remembered us from the time he set David's arm after he fell off his bike and broke it.
          Dr. Simon examined Peter's knee. It had taken a great deal of abuse over the years, but didn't seem to be the cause of the problem.  The doctor felt the cause lay elsewhere.
          After several diagnostic tests, including several MRI's, the two tumors were discovered.  No longer dormant, they had enlarged to the size of grapefruits. One was pressing on his spine and the other was in his pelvic area. Both were inoperable and turned out to be malignant.
          I'll spare you the anguish and pain we all went through and tell you that Peter died almost to the day the oncologist said he would. He told me my husband would last until the New Year. Peter died January 2nd.
          I wanted to jump into the grave as the casket was lowered. “She’s so distraught,” I overheard people say. How could they possibly know how I felt? Did they sit and watch the person they loved die by degrees, a little more each day? Did they see whatever hope they had to cling to crushed by the uncontrolled spread of unseen deadly cells? I doubt it. The only thing keeping me alive and giving me the reason to go on was David.  Our son needed a mother.
          Peter didn't leave us penniless. There was a small life insurance policy, but his medical
bills took most of it. There ought to be a law protecting the surviving spouse from going to the “poorhouse” paying for the deceased's medical bills.
          I went back to work to make sure David was never denied anything. It wasn't easy, believe me, but I made ends meet. I became both mother and father to David and proudly watched as he grew from a boy into a teenager.
          I never thought there'd ever be another man in my life. That part of my life had been buried with Peter. Then I met Alex, a sweet dark-haired man with an easy smile and a great sense of humor.
          We first met at a Chinese takeout restaurant, of all places. I was late, coming home from work, and needed a quick dinner. I knew David would be famished by the time I came home. Walking into the restaurant looked like a big mistake. The place was unbelievably busy.  Was everyone late coming home from work tonight, I wondered? It was too late to go to another place, so I ordered and sat down next to a man reading a newspaper. As I sat down, he muttered something. I thought that I might have accidentally bumped him so I apologized.
          He lowered the paper and asked, “Why are you sorry?  It's not your fault.”
          “Why isn't it my fault?” I asked.
          “Because you weren't there.”
          “What are you talking about?” I looked at him inquisitively.
          “What are you talking about?” he replied back.
          Then we both broke into laughter, realizing we were talking about totally different things. He’d obviously been annoyed by something else, perhaps a newspaper article.
          “Hello, I'm Alex Kramer,” he said extending his hand.
          “I'm Janice Howard. Glad to meet you.”
          “I've never seen this place so busy on a weekday night.”
          “Do you come here often?” I asked.
          “Pretty much. I hate to cook.”
          Either he wasn't married or he stayed home and kept house while his wife worked.  Suddenly, I found myself curious as to which, as my eyes studied those long, tapered fingers.
          “I'm not crazy about cooking either, but on my salary, I can't afford to do this often.”
          “Maybe we should combine forces,” Alex said, much to my surprise.
          “In what way?”
          “I have the money, and you have a desire to eat, so why don't I take you to dinner some time.”
          “What about your wife?”
          “No wife. Do you know any prospects for me?”
          “I can check into that if you like.”
          “What about you? Are you interested in the job or do you have a husband at home?”
          “No husband at home, but I'd need some time to check into the necessary requirements for the position.”
          Alex broke into a laugh and I joined him. In ten short minutes he had proven himself to be the most enjoyable person I'd talked to in months.
          When his number was called, he rose from the seat and said, “I would really like to see you again—and I don't mean here. Seriously, I think we can have a good time together. May I call you?”
          I smiled and wrote my telephone number across the top of his newspaper. He smiled back and paid for his food.
          “I'll call soon,” he said as he left.
          He called two days later. We made a date for dinner and had a wonderful time, just as he predicted. Though, I’d been a basket case filled with worry. I hadn’t been out with a man in too long a time to recall. I wasn’t exactly certain about what to do if things progressed to the next level. And, things progressed pretty quickly for us. I guess I never realized how lonely I truly was and it seemed Alex was just as lonely.
Our first time together was something else. After dinner, we’d gone back to Alex’s place for a nightcap. Despite my nervousness, I truly wanted to take our relationship to the next step. Alex and I were sitting on his couch sipping wine, listening to quiet music. When he turned to kiss me, I somehow ended up spilling the wine over both of us. I began to babble how sorry I was and ran to get toweling paper to dry the spill. The paper turned out to be useless, shredding into little pieces. Frustrated with my actions and not being able to rectify things, I burst out in tears.
“Hey… slow down,” Alex said, taking me around. “It’s okay. I’m just as nervous. This is new to me, as well. Trust me, I’m no Casanova. Let’s make everything a first for us.” Then he kissed me gently.
After our lips parted, Alex placed his forehead against mine. “Okay, now? Or do you want to watch a movie on TV and share a bowl of popcorn?”
I replied with a kiss. Alex smiled and kissed me back. That kiss grew hard and insistent. It was followed by a new flurry of kisses brought us into Alex’s bedroom where we slowly undressed one another. Slowly, and with a great deal of foreplay, we made sweet love. For me it was strange and new. Peter had been the only other man I’d ever been with.
Alex turned out to be such a romantic. He'd send me flowers at work to brighten my day or call to see how I was doing. When I discovered he’d never been married, I feared that there might be something wrong with him. After all, you heard about such stories where men appeared great until you actually lived with them. However, the reason turned out to be a simple one. He hadn’t found the right woman to spend the rest of his life with. He soon decided I met all the qualifications and offered me the job.
We were married six months later. It would have been silly for us to wait. Neither of us were teenagers and life was too short to play games. I had learned that first hand. I’d had a long talk with David before I got married. I worried he might not want to accept a new man in my life, even though his father had been gone for ten years. I made sure he knew that Alex could never replace his father or the wonderful memories he had of him. I would always miss Peter, also. However, Alex was a different person with whom I’d found a second chance for happiness and love.
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